Newsom / Lee Shown Wrong Again on Closing Neighborhood Recycling Centers

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By Calvin Welch, HANC Board

The Newsom/Lee administration had two "talking points" in the 2010-2012 saga of the closing of the recycling center at Kezar:

One, that the recycling center was responsible for homeless people being in our neighborhood, as, in the immortal words of C.W. Nevius, they used it as their "ATM" and, like everybody, ole CW knows, if you remove their ATM's you remove them, right?

And two, that the recycling center was no longer needed, that the City is meeting it recycling goals, and that Recology's curb side pick-up rendered the Center's drop-off service some hippie-dippie holdover, outmoded by changed conditions.

While HANC argued the fallacy of both arguments at the time-that homelessness had nothing to do with recycling, and that in a heavily tenanted neighborhood like the Haight-Ashbury, thousands of tenants do not have access to the three bins--the Mayor's ally, the Chronicle had the "big megaphone" and our arguments were not heard.

But reality is persistent and mocks mere "talking points."


As was pointed out in the August, 2015 Voice (, the official Federal Homeless Count of 2015 found that the homeless population had increased by 56% between the closing of the center in 2011 and the 2015 count in District 5 where two neighborhood drop-off recycling centers were closed.

The second point made by the opponents of the recycling centers--that the City is meeting the goals for recycling and that Recology's curb-side program is sufficient- was given a rather severe blow in a Chronicle front page report in the Sunday, September 18th edition ( It turns out, reports the Chronicle, that the City has missed its recycling goals recently and risks missing its target of producing no landfill ("zero waste") by 2020. It now seems to be the case that we are producing "more trash every day than . . . recycling," per the story. In a chart illustrating the amount of landfill produced each year the low point was reached in 2012 when neighborhood recycling centers still existed. Since their closing landfill tonnage has increase each year.

The story did not explore the relationship between neighborhood centers and waste diversion, indeed didn't even mention the centers, instead citing , "more residents, more workers and far more construction." Yet, the graph showed a steep decline in the "dot-com" boom years of 2000 to 2002 when there were neighborhood drop-off recycling centers and a booming economy.

So, since neighborhood recycling centers have closed, the homeless population in our neighborhood has increased and we are sending more waste to landfill. Seems to be working just like CW Nevius, Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee predicted, huh?


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